Dialectics of Caste and Class Conflicts

Sharad Patil The transition from the non-hereditary varna to the hereditary jati marks the transition from the early tribal slave societies to the feudal societies before India was colonised. This article traces that process in some detail. Jati or caste did then represent class defined in terms of relation to land, expropriation of its surplus, and military and bureaucratic sharing of wealth and power. With colonial society, new class relations came into being. In the basically mercantile economy the urban bourgeoisie, big and small, merged with the rural class of rentier landlords as the creditor became de facto landlord and the debtor a permanent serf. Naturally, the rentier was a vehement protagonist of the varna jati dharma or ideology, ever to underpin the changing economic and political base. It should he emphasised that the ruling classes of capitalists and landlords and their parties increasingly rely on caste and religious support in the race for parliamentary power. Given the composition of Indian society, socialism cannot be achieved without peasant agrarian revolution. And it is in the rural areas that caste is the strongest. Mass organisations will have to devote as much energy to the struggle against caste as they devote to the struggle against economic exploitation on new class lines.
CASTE in Vedic times was not based on birth, but on initiation (Aryan: upanayana; non-Aryan: abhisincana, upasampada). The Vratya-stoma of Atharva-veda (XV) was composed for absorbing alien tribes or tribesmen into the tribal caste society. As for hierarchical ranking of castes, we see that during the epic period, through the higher three castes: Brahman, kshatriya and Vaisya, of the rajaka (monarchical) tribal slave States had hypergamous inequality amongst them, they had equal rights in the administrative organs of these States, i e, in the sabha (tribal council) and the parishad (tribal assembly). In the a-rajaka (non-monorchical) tribal slave States or sanghaganas — from which Mahavira and Buddha hailed — there was no Brahmin caste at all, the custodian of purity. (The Sudra-Dasas, though slaves during the whole epoch of the tribal slave society, wore varna and not non-varna, and hence were not untouchables.)
Two HERTTAGES

Phule's theory of the caste system was that it was created by the Aryan or Irani Bhats or Brahmana. His harking back to king Bali 1 meant that, before the coming of the Irani Brahmins, Indian society was a caste-less (i e, classless) agricultural community. Thus, his race theory did not owe its origin exclusively to the European one but drew upon an age-old non-Brahman tradition. 2 The term 'bahu-jana samaj', meaning majority of society, is not of Marathi origin. Indeed, 'bahu-jana' was a term which Buddha usually used to denote the masses, while 'Brahmanetara' is a term which goes back to early Vedic times.

"Aitareya Brahmana" (11.19), the earliest treatise on Vedic ritualism, relates that the Vedic seer Kavasha Ailusha was denounced as 'a-Brahmin' by the Aryan priests, who were performing a sacrificial session on the banks of the river Saravaati; he was driven out in to the sandy waste to die of thirst and hunger. His 'Child of (he Waters' (Apo-naptriyam) hymn (Rg X.30)) was meant for performing the magic of 'controlled inundation (parisaraka) of the riparian land. This means that he belonged to the riparian agricultural civilisation of the Indus era. Rks 20-24 of the Rg-Vedic hymn 111.53, composed by the Aryan seer Visvamitra, are considered to be antiVasishtha. The former was patriarchal while the latter was matriarchal. Hence the struggle that commenced at this early period of Indian history was between two peoples - the one agricultural and hence matriarchal and matrilineal and the other pastoral and hence patriarchal. Karma, in his quarrel with Salya, derided the matrilineal Vahikas of Punjab as Dasamiyas and Vrshalas (slaves and slavelike).3 The grammarian Patanjali (BC 200), commenting on Panini's rule 1.4.1, classified the countries of his time as aBrahmanako desah' (non-Brahmin countries) and 'a-Vrshalak desah' (Brahmin countries).4 The struggle between these two social systems was bound to be lenght out in the ideological field. Philosophies of India are not divided between materialistic and idealistic systems, but between a-Brahmin or Nastika (an ti-transcendentalistic) and Brahmin or Astika (transcendentalistic). Shankhya (Later tradition classified this as Brahmanic), Lokayata (materialism), Jainism and Buddhism are a-Brahmin,

while Purva-Mimamsa, Vedanta, Nyaya (Logic) and Vaiseshika are Brahmin. A l l these non-Brahmanic philosophies had their own monastic orders called gana or sangha (tribe) which were casteless (i e, classless). It is well known that these were against caste system and karmakanda. When two Bhikkhus called Vamehi and Tokula, hailing from the Brahmin caste, urged Buddha to permit them to render his teachings in Sanskrit, he forbade them and laid down that his teachings should be propagated exclusively in the languages spoken by die people.5 The saint Jnanesvwra, who is supposed to have laid the foundation of the Bhakti movement in Maharashtra, was boycotted by the Brahmin caste council (Brahma-sabha), and hence, was constrained to embrace the non-Brahmanic Nath sect. The saint Cakradhara of the Mahanubhavas was Jnaneswara's predecessor. He was tortured to death by Hemadri, the Brahmin minister of the Vadavas of Deogiri. The Bhagawat dharma itself is considered to be non-Brahmanic, 6 Tims, Phule (1827-1890) had behind him a long non-Brahmin tradition. The Brahmin or Astika philosophies and their Vedic and neo-Vedic religions were fierce protagonists of caste society and sexual inequality. The philosophy fashioned by priest-kings such as Pravahana Jaivali, Asvapati Kaikyea, and Janaka, of the rajaka tribal slave States was Brahmavada or Monist idealism, while the philosophy of the a-rajaka tribal slave States or Sangha-ganas, which arose out of the dissolution of these theocratic monarchies, was a form of Sankhya or dualistie pluralism. Krishna, the leader of the first sanglia-gana in India, was faced w i t h the task of preserving his nascent o l i -

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culture. extolls the philosophy as "astounding cognition of the world process. it found its greatest exponent in modern times in Tilak who wrote his famous "Gita-rahasya'' to expound it. What he says . and hopeless to stand on their own resources. and the spending many who count by millions among the military and the cultivating classes remains good.117. In all countries. But does this mean that there was no economic differentiation within castes? Many among the highest castes: Brahmin and Kshitriya. The social cultural and philosophical revolts.' 8 Deshpande even claims that. (Chapters X I V 'Sangha-gana'. And the miser finds no one to pity him. t h e Vedanta philosophers established their supremacy over every school of philosophy virtually wiping them out of existence from the soil of India. . expound these philosophies sociologically. up to the advent of the British raj in India. notwithstanding all prohibitory legislation.. Buddhism is responsible for the greatest revolution in all fields of Indian history. property will gravitate from the one class to the other. 17 289 B R Ambedkar attempted to prove that the Sudras originally constituted the solar Kshatriya caste of the Vedic Aryan society. Their initiation samskara consisted in taking a ceremonial bath (abhisincana) in their mangala Vokkurunis (lotus ponds). politically and socially homogeneous group of persons. by gleaning grain from harvested fields and fuodgathering. passing from semi-feudal patriarchal conditions of existence into a more . improvident.. whether in land or in goods.-mounts to this: the feudal ruling castes of Brahmins and Marathas were being replaced by the capitalistic Brahmin and Bania castes. must gravitate towards the class which has more intelligence and greater foresight. philosophy. comprised the conqueror Arab tribes. says.12 Ambedkar's argument. Since then it has become the official philosophy of the Indian bourgeoisie who had reached a 'historical compromise' with landlordism right I rum the time of Phule and which has continued even after Independence. But. This was the situation as far as the tribal slave society was concerned. were essentially readjustment within the feudal system. cursing his affluent caste-brothers. and culture could not but have adverse effects on their intellectual achievements. what Marx did in fashioning his dialectical materialism was just to rediscover the Vedanta philosophy! 9 Dange. That is why the non-Brahmins failed to develop their own scholarship. The captains of Alexander have recorded that numerous Kshatriyas hired out their services. to be products of the intellectual villainy of the Brahmins against the SudraAtisudras.. the ruled and" exploited Sudra peasant castes had economic differentiations. on the one hand. Better known as Vedanta. in his foreword to this book.sya. on the other. Kshatriya and Va. This will be best illustrated by what M C Ranade said in 1898 about the social transformation being brought about by the British.11 The non-Brahmins regarded not only the so-called Vedic religion. Irfan Habib gives us a class break-up of a Punjab village surveyed in 1897-87 for the assessment of jiziya (poll tax on non-Muslims). He visualised the struggle of the hahujtma samaj as a class struggle of the Sudras and Ati-Sudras against the Shetjis and Bhatjis. property. Their negative attitude towards the so-called Brahnumic Indian history. states in his "The Universe of Vedanta" that the Vedanta philosophy of Badarayana is the greatest philosophy of India 7 and proclaims . CIass itself was a communal category..) That is why his school proved to be the longest (BO 600 to AD 700) and produced the greatest galaxy of philosophers from Nagasena and Nagarjuna to Dignaga and Dharmakirti.. 1 6 tl Aitareya Brahmana" ( V I I . Autdrasa. As long as the differences in the habits and education of the saving few. as is well known. the gods have not created hunger as the only way to death.... lived in penmy even in ancient times. ' . sold off his middle son Sunahsepa for hundred cows to the Ikshuaku prince Rohita for sacrificing him in his stead to the god Varuna. . Non-Brahmin thinkers of the colonial period though they broke through the caste framework. being published by Allied Publishers. but all Vedic and Sanskrit literature. represented by the Bania and the Brahmin classes.from the laws of custom to the rule of competition. the main class division of all class societies in India was constituted in a communal manner.. This is a law of Providence and ran never be wisely or safely ignored by practical statesmen for any fancied or sentimental considerations. This negative attitude goes back to the time when the Nastika philosophies started their struggle against the A t i k a philosophies. Deaths (of various types) also await the satiated man. its taws and philosophy" by the . 10 This is the herilage of Vedavadin nationalists and communists! NAGATIVE INTELLECTUAL LEGACY Nastika philosophies of his time. vedavadins . that ruled over non-Islamic subject peoples. 15) says that the Brahmin Ajigarta Sanyavasi. of my book "Dasa-Sudra Slavery". and in response to the need for a philosophy that could provide ideological leadership to the anti-slavery feudal revolution of his time. and practises abstinence. XV 'Philosophies of the Slave Era'.14 Pre-Turkish Indian feudal society was made up of the military castes and the Brahmin caste as the ruling and exploiting castes. Sanghaganas right from that of the Yadavas of the Mahabharata times (BC 850) to those of Buddha's time (BC 600) had no Brahmin caste. and philosophy.. Dange inherited this Astika tradition from T i l a k Bani Deshpande Dange's son-in-law. but of one or a cluster of castes which were analogous politically and socially. It is worth noting that. the Brahmin seer of the Hgvedic livmn X. The epics Ramayana and Mahabharata narrate tales of pauper Brahmins who lived by the unche way. were unable to rise above this negative legacy. W i t h its eclipse the non-Brahmin current lost its spirit of independent philosophical quest.. a combination of the philosophies of these two types of slave States. Though Buddha took the same attitude. and were thus unable to go out of the caste and philosophical framework of Brahman ism. He struck a historic compromise with a section of these rajaka States led by the Pandavas.garchy from the attacks of the rajaka States such as Magadha and Salva. The rajaka tribal slave States of the epic period were constituted by the three ruling and exploiting castes: Brahman. instead of Banias and Brahmins. while the ruled and exploited caste was Sudra (in non-Brahmanical States: Dasa-karmakara).13 DIALECTICAL RELATION CLASS OF CASTE AND settled and commercial order of things. and the Sudra and Ati-Sudra castes (merchants. it left it untouched. The Arab feudal class too. Phule used the more popular terms: Shetjis and Bhatjis. i e. The philosophy which he fashioned to justify this alliance came to he known as Advaita Brahmavada. however. but that since the Brahmins refused to perform upanayana for them they were pushed down to the fourth caste.. can hardly stand the test of history. 15 Ranade. The riches of the donor do not get exhausted. . No. since then. hard-pressed by hunger and destitution. peasants and labourers). and must slip from the hands of those who are ignorant. and X V I 'Feudal Revolution'.The country is in a transition stage.. though Buddhism was against caste system. Class in pre-colonial India was not made up of economically. . a liberal nationalist and one of our earliest bourgeois economists. was a social reformer. he evolved his philosophy after a thorough exploration of the Astika and Phule identified caste w i t h class. In feudalism.

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Kautalya lays down that land can be sold or mort- gaged by a landowner of a tax-paying village to another person of a tax-paying village only. This is not to be confused w i t h private property in the means of production. 18 But does this mean that economic differentiation had taken place in all castes? Data lifted from the census of 1951 is tabulated in Table 2 to help arrive at an approximate estimate as to the extent to which class differentiation had taken place in the six Adivasi taluks of the district Dhule in Maharashtra.05 of the "Arthasastra" entitled 'Sale of Vastu' — vastu meaning house. Dange. In India." 21 Irfan Habib proves indisputably that... land was not a commodity but. had a claim to shares of the produce on the basis of their performance of functions for the society. were of no consequence. certain groups. or tribe or l i n eage as a whole. adverse possession and lease of land. R S Sharma's observation should be taken in tins context. castes. Kshatriya and Vaisya) takes place simultaneously with the rise of slavery. he writes in his work of more mature age : 'The rise of the three Varnas (Brahman. 26 291 . though economic differentiation could take place between the ruling and the peasant castes. identified caste with class: "The fight of the Non-Brahmin classes to raise themselves to the status of the Brahmins began when the Hindu society divided itself into various castes or classes. Class struggle took the form of caste (and communal) struggles. He went on to say that the non-Brahmin movement was dominated In petty bourgeois elements who wanted a share in the spoils. it is clear that he laid down a procedure by giving the rules for selling a vastu like a house. 1922. etc." 23 According to Marx. a class. he declared. Hence he expected it to disappear during the development of modern industry and the class struggles generated by i t . Avanti. mortgage. peasant families owned their respective lands and they could alienate their lands subject to above-mentioned provisions. in pro-colonial India. he admited that there were also sincere but confused elements who wanted to do away with all classes..s conclusion is bound to lead to the formulation which Omvedt makes: . there were claims of shares in the agricultural product. the struggle of the non-Brahmins was exclusively for sanskritisation. Caste hindered further class formation. PROPERTY AND CASTE Thi. Magadha. for they would vanish in the class struggle to give way to two classes only: 'Troletarians and God Capital)! 25 '-' In order to prove his old thesis. " I t is only from the Gupta period onwards that the law books lay down provisions regarding partition. Prior to colonial rule. 1 9 Sale and purchase of land is attested in Buddha's time itself by the purchase of the site for the Jeta-vana Vihara at Sravasti by the trader Anathapindika from the prince Jera of the nontribal feudal Kosala kingdom.. land. writing in Socialist. Thus. We can infer from this that. for raising themselves to the erstwhile ruling caste or castes. it could not split any of these castes into classes.. 20 Though it is argued that Kautalya had legislated only for the sale of a house. Class differentiation had taken place to the extent that land alienation due to usury and capitalistic agriculture had developed. sale. 22 Colonial rule removed all these restrictions on the alienation of landed property and opened the way for the formation of classes in every caste. in the words of Eric Wolf. exchange and private property . class struggle in such a society could take place only through caste organisations. According to "Arthavastra" (111. Marx noted tin's new economic development and wrote in New York Times. etc — instead of the clan. and halikas in I I I . those decisive impediments to Indian progress and Indian power."'21 Thus. Communal property was displaced by joint family property. August 8. caste was a product of pre-industrial class society.In the Gatha Sapta-sati of the Satavahana king Hala ( A D 50) gamani (village chief) falls in category I. November 25. in pre-colonial class societies of India. during the Moghul period. the joint family became the primary and most important unit of Society. But colonial rule most typically established land as a market commodity. In pre-colonial India. That is why the great scholast Vacaspati Misra ( A D 900) said that a dusty-footed halika is not capable of philosophical cognition. then his neighbours.. though the British asked the question 'who owned the land?'. This was possible because — with the advent of non-tribal feudal States such as Kosala. More regular transactions — sanctioned and regulated by law in Mauryan times — are evidenced by the chapter 111. it was in fact the wrong question : no one owned it. in almost all cases. an 'attribute of the community' to which the peasant belonged claimed by a community. The seller had to ask his clansmen first. But.61) family and property became divisible in every fifth generation. and by a brahma-deya grantee to another grantee only. no economic differentiation could take place in the A d i vasi tribes and the Ati-Sudra castes. Hence.. according to him. gahavais (Sanskrit: grahu-pati. Why? Because slavery arises out of the same momentum that brought forth the Varnas — the variety and rising productivity of labour. the Sudra Varna. 1853: "Modern industry will dissolve the hereditary division of labour. meaning householder) in I I . from cultivators and artisans in villages up to feudal overlords. However. upon which rest the Indian castes. rather. then his creditor..

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VARNA AND JAN Annual Number February 1979 VARNA AND JATI Romila Thapur makes a distinction between varna and jati and thinks that varna was the theory and ritual ranking of castes. and DasaKamakara varnas. We come across the jatis mentioned by "Vinayapitaka" only in the non-tribal feudal monarchies such as Kosala. 1. and Smarta is the varna-jati religion of the new non-tribal feudal society.. and Pukkusa. members of most castes follow certain occupations and no others). The real disintegrator or subjugator of the tribal States or tribes was the new feudal means or mode of production. therefore. the functional aspect of caste appears to have been jati and not varna. jati is a product ef fendal society representing the multip b i n g and increasing division of labour and social and economic inequalities in that society. Tims. The word jati does not occur in Vedic literature except in ''Nirukta (XII. Hence. were referring to the theory of caste. SarasvatI. In the same manner. Jatis became parts of a non-tribal feudal class society. each varna representing the ritual ranking of castes. A person was now born in his jati. The sangha-ganas that succeeded both types of the rajaka States had only two varnas . This composite religious code was systematised by 293 . VI . initiation. 131. comprising of Kshatriya. Magadha. 3 4 Jatis evolved out of disintegrated of subjugated tribal States or tribes.s by uniting in sacred marriage. The religion of this new society is defined by the Dharmasastras as consisting of Sranta (Vedic) and Smarta (based on Smritis). i e. Rathakara. varna became the manifestation of social and economic inequalities and further division of labour in class society.. or the highest form of tribal slave system. (3) restrictions as to food (i e.. the main thing that distinguished the varna system was the Initiation ritual. Srauta was the varna-asrama and sacrificial (karmakanda) religion of the old rajaka (priestkingly) tribal slave society.6 says that the Kshatra Lopamudra and the Brahma Agastya nourished both the varna. i e. when speaking of varna. varna arose in a classless tribal society. tells us that the terms paksha and varga were applied to the parties or constituents of a tribe. in theory a tuan is assigned to a particular caste by birth in that caste. it was a product of sexual or social inequality as well as division of labour. restriction as to marrying in the same caste and not marrying certain relations or other persons. . Brahmin.. They took their place in the new non-tribal feudal society in the framework of the old varna system according to the new division of labour in a hierarchical manner. Vena. as low jatis. The tribe was classless. Thus. (2) endogamy and exogamy. Vak also is called Rashlridevi by Atharva-veda (IV.. It became an empty ritual.'31 The Kasika commentary on Panini's rule. Varna became what sociologists have called the ritual rank'. conferred such a kingship on the person elected by the tribe for kingship. Brahmin. This is how the new varna-jati system came into existence. Again. RELIGION NEW AND OLD But what is the difference between the social inequalities represented by these two institutions. and not necessarily the actual socio-economical status.179. nutted to reproduce the tribe and the world. These terms also mean half or the moieties of a tribe. some being at the top in the social scale and others being deemed to be sa low that they are untouchable. It was a puberty rite which entitled one to all the rights and privileges of that society. 28 The rise and development of varna and jati are held by Thapar to be contemporaneous.society functioned.. was displaced by the samanta or the non-tribal feudal system.13)p and "Katyayana Srauta Sutra'. (5) graduation of castes. The dharma-sastras.'' 33 In the Buddhist canons. Hence. while their cammunal slaves and labourers of the Dasa-karmakara varna were once-horns. which takes us to the original meaning of varna. The Sakya tribe is repeatedly referred to as jati. thus. and may best be translated by the word 'group'. whereas jati was the indication of the actual status.2. which is the literal meaning of the term. Varna appears to have represented the theory of structure. The power to regulate the conduct of its members. The sangha-gana. denoting its two sexes. the oldest Vedic glossary. Nesada. a pre-eminently tribal ritual. It was the ritual of rebirth. the matriarchal agricultural tribe of the Indus civilisation was constituted by two varnas. each of the twice-born varnas had a different kind of initiation ritual.30). The m actios of a tribe: Kshatra and Brahma. to impose the penalties of fines or excommunication for lapses. Rashtri is the only word lor kingship in ''Nighantu'' (II. the word 'jati' is still used in the sense of tribe. but the society being matriarchal. as is evident from the abovementioned characteristics. lost its efficacy. Kshatriya and Dasa-Kannakara. Kane gives the characteristic features of jati as follows : In most of the works on the castes in India a few features are pointed out as the characteristics common to all castes and sub-castes. . though of the same caste. while their communal slaves and labourers of the Sudra varna were once borns. Aitareya Brahmana (IV. Devi means one who distributes vashtra land Thus. and Khattiya and Brahmin as high jatis.27) describes the sacred marriage of the Rashtri or Kshatra Vak and the Brahma Brhaspati... kshatriya. and what is their relati in with each other? Nobody could become a member of tribal society — classless or class — without being i n i t i ated with its sumsakara. and Vaisya varnas on the Brahmanic rajaka slave Slates were twice-borns. Kashtra means the cammunal land of a tribe. According to A K Coomaraswamy. 30 It means that jati is post-Vedie institution. but regulated their internal affairs subject to the powers vested in the feudal State lunctionaries on a tribal model.22.2-1). Hence. while jati was the actual stains and functioning of castes. The word jati is used in the sense of caste for the first time by "Vinayapilaka 32 It enumerates Candala. etc.ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL WEEKLY That is marks that was taken to be the problem! 2 7 why Prabhakar Vaidya reclass theory or class struggle by these early communists panacea for solving every by lots (aksha). Then what is varna? The Rgvedic hymn.1). . Kshatriya and Brahmin varnas of the non-Brahman rajaka slave Stales were twice bonis (deija). a tributary of the Indus. Every jati was given a ritual rank so that its order in the hierarchy could be easily assigned. there was social inequality between them. that had arisen in Buddha's time. and this word is better translated as 'caste'. what food or water may be taken or not taken and from whom): (4) occupation (i e. W i t h the advent of the preAryan rajaka tribal slave society. Rashtri was the designation of the queen of a matriarchal tribe. The water of the river SarasvatI which was brought to consecrate a king in the Raja-suya sacrifice is called rashtra-da (rashtra-giving) by ''Vajasaueyi Sainhita" (X. the sat red marriage (deva-rivaha) was performed in order to imitate the sacred marriage of the Sky and the Earth (Pyava-Prithvi) in rainy season through which the world was reproduced. They are: (1) heredity. (6) The caste council with the chief having in meeting assembled among other matter. but women being the rulers and men the ruled. Jati relationships represent the actual way in which .

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. Deviprasad Chattopadhyaya. 600 agraharas and 800 villages to temples (devakulas). The total areas of these lands in the district are 36.35 What was the share of the village priest in the 'surplus product' of the peasant in a village? We get the following information from South India. jains. Damodaran could not withstand the spell of Vedanta. barbers. only about -half of the total crop (in an average year) was retained by the working part of the rural population 16 (ryots. p 2000). The only Marxist scholars of Indian philosophy of note: Rahul Sankrityayana. . servants and artisans). . as also to the support of a few vertunnes. such as carpenters. were usually of the . In the tax report of June 10. shoemakers and tanners'..:37 Religious land grants to Brahmins in the pre-Turkish feudal regimes in Maharashtra are described by K S Sharma as follows: February 1979 In the Rastrakuta kingdom.ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL WEEKLY individual Brahmin priestly ministers of the feudal kings. yuvaraj (crown prince). blind and helpless. the produce of these lands is appropriated to the maintenance of the Brahmins. of which only 5. or 'two per cent'. This military tribe-cum-caste hail to be initiated to the Kshatriya caste. but took over the saffron flag of Vedanta from the Hindu church through Tilak. 41 Marxist philosophy is yet to wage a serious struggle against this philosophy of the Hindu church.. while the rest of this laud (10. and K Damodaran — excepting the first — owe allegiance to the Vedantin Dange's political party. he is reported to have said that this army was as important for the empire as the real army . who studied the situation in South India in the first decade of the last century. What was their charge on the revenue collected? Irfan Habib informs us: . in India.. Only a Kshatriya could become a king. . . . the need being mutual.5 per cent. That is why the Puranas say that. prepared by Forbes. The Brahmin caste became the sole dispenser of sanskritisation. communal servants and administrative staff of the district. The religion of each tribal State was in its own spoken language. barber.190 bighas were owned by 'village artifieees.563 bighas. which had long ceased to be a language spoken by the people. there never was any individual law-giver of the tribal slave society as a whole. Some particular fields. and for servants (not engaged in agriculture) and artisans 2. W i t h the beginning of the Christian era. . initiation was never the monopoly of the Brahmin varna. etc). and sir-deshpande or ganugo. The religion of the sangha-gana oligarchies was again varna-asrama. Apart from grants of villages made singly. we get the following information from Gujarat given by James Forbes in 1856.993 bighas) belonged to the administration personnel and priests staffing the temples and mosques. The job was now done by the Brahmin priesthood.400 villages.' As for the tax-free land allotted to Brahmins and Cazees. the cazees. but minus karma-kanda. Sanskrit became a prerogative of the top feudal class. or armed men who are kept for tin: defence of the village. smith. It was also allotted to members of the clergy. I t appears that from M i r a t . . philosophy.000 panas per year. That is why Ranade said that the military caste and the Brahmin caste were the rulers of the feudal society.5 per cent. even when kingship became hereditary. in most. and desai-deshmukh or chaudhari. . mantri (minister) and purohita (royal chaplain) — all Brahmins — were paid a salary of 38. prominent priestly Brahmins received brahma-deya land grants. In other words. In pre-feudal times. though in a modified form. . seem to have emerged as important intermediaries in land . Buddha says in the "Mahaparinibbanasutta" that the repositors of the ageold religion of the Vajjis are their tribal elders.. considered to be the greatest idealist philosopher of India. Thus. acarya (teacher). equivalent to what was paid to senapati (army chief). which was equally divided between the patwari and the ganugo (Ain I. Those grantees became a part of the class of zamindars — the Moghul term for feudal lords. equivalent to Deshmukhs or Desais. In return. Kshatriyas had ceased to exist. for members of the clergy over 2. Thus under the Rastrakutas. law. Brahmins now became the sole repositories of Vedas and Vedandas.:38 R S Sharma notes that. . washermen. . and. and the lame. rajmata (king's mother).5 per cent. are set apart in each village for public purposes . the remuneration for the administration and armed men (of the zamindar?) accounted for 12. ARMY OF PRAYER Annual Number dominant military caste.'38 Even under the bureaucratic feudalism of the imperial Mauryas rtvik (priest). the Rastrakuta records speak of the regrant of 400 villages by one ruler. though the religion of the rajaka tribal slave society was varna-asrama and karmakanda.. . were invariably Brahmins or to a lesser extent Kayasthas. this part of the land was in effect feudal tax-exempt property. but women as a class not excluding queens could speak only in Prakrit. . we find a more accurate description of pysita as a land allotment provided 'for the maintenance of various descriptions of artificers in each village. far more villages wore held by temples and Brahmanas than in the Pala and Pratihara dominions taken together. This development seems to have taken place in Maharashtra under the i n fluence of the South where temples possessed more landed property than individual priests. w i t h the Sudra Nandas. called pysita and vajeeso lands. Jahangir called it the Army of Prayer'. The repositories of tribal religion were the tribal elders. 295 Patil or mugaddam. a Kshatriya tribal elder of the Kurus. The military caste and the Brahmin caste were equal partners in the feudal rule in every respect. which was the ideological and religious bulwark of Indian feudalism. priestly institutions rather than priests themselves.380. . A c c o r d i n g to Benjamin Heyne.91). But now any powerful leader of a military tribe-cum-caste could seize power. pariahs. But. and mahishi (chief queen) (V. . but that the ruling dynasties of pre-Turkish times 'vied with one another in making religious grants'. . 40 Sankaracharya (AD 788-820). religion. washermen. 1815. An estimated 14. . every new king had to obtain I he sanction of the tribal elders and he was consecrated to kingship by the tribal assembly. bighas were owned by communal servants (bhils. there was no 'struggle between the Papacy and the State' (which later developed into the ideological struggle that prepared the ground for the industrial revolution) which characterised the history of medieval Europe. tailors. The leaders of the Indian bourgeoisie did not unfurl the banner of materialism as their counterparts in Europe did a few centuries earlier. The religion of the feudal society was now exclusively in Sanskrit. that there was a five per cent charge on the revenue which was equally divided between the mugaddam and the desai (chaudhari) just as there was another charge known as saddoi. and the grant by another ruler of 1. sought instruction in dhanna (which then covered everything. the tax equalled 35 per cent of the crop. T h e State had its own interest in maintaining this class. after becoming the priest-king (dharma-raja) of all the Kurus. In that society. Not only Sudras and Ati-Sudras. Yudhishthira. etc) from Bhishma. Kulakarnideshpande or patwari. blacksmiths. even the the non-Brahmanical [ainas and Buddhas adopted Sanskrit as their literary language. potters. established the organised Hindu chinch in India. That is why the Moghul emperor Jahangir called the priesthood 'lashkar-i-idua.

44-45. urban colonial areas. p 165. "Islam—Muslims—India". p 35. pp 21-25. Mahavageapalli. p 107. STRUGGLE AGAINST CLASS -CASTE Omvedt says that. "Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power in Indian Theory of Government". pp 111-115. that an organised struggle against the caste system and oppression of women should accompany the class and mass movements. But there is increasing realisation. remain strong in the villages and religious practices which the Satvashodhak Samaj opposed. "India: Social and Economic Development (18th-20th Century)". pp 114-116. p 2. Gail Omvedt. "Kerala. p 22.) Muslim and Christian communities in India are themselves taste ridden.3. The warning that Ambedkar gave to Indian socialists and communists in 1916 has hardly lost its force today. pp 119-121. the old ideology. groups and parties closer in order to form a MarxistLeninist party capable of organising and leading the revolution. P V Kane.simply an urban class but merged into The rural class of rentier landlords as the creditor became a de facto landlord and the debtor a permanent serf. R S Sharma. K Damodaran. Hence. V. the builder of communism in India. big and little. ''Politics and Society during Early Medieval Period". the commercial bourgeoisie. the caste system survived. G Shirokov. pp 144-145. pp 314-315 D R Chanana. Mass organisations of the agricultural labourers and industrial workers must devote. A Engineer. Ibid. Vedic Index. are increasingly relying on religious and caste support. The Tairakaiimudi. J Kashyap (ed).. has been swept from political power by a rich peasant non-Brahmin clite with strong roots in the villages and with an institutional basis in rural cooperatives and educational societies. on cit. has meant a significant degree of opening up of the society and a dispersal of castes along the economic ladder. lbid. . Ibid. vestiges of caste will remain even after the disappearance of classes. The existence of a class elite in almost every caste group. inequality between intellectual and manual labour. Development of an elite class in every caste.4. pp 48-49. 16. disparity between urban and rural areas. Out of the fire of the final fight against these vestiges of caste-class system will emerge. Canganath Jha (Trans). All our energies. op cit. the mass powerful and cohesive constituent of which is Jan Sangh. and protracted. W i l l castes disappear along with classes? Marx said that. "The Agrarian System of Mughal India". on cit. 37 38 39 40 41 42 44 Ibid. pp 29-30. T h a t the social order prevalent in India is a matter which a Socialist must ileal with. Cullavaggapuli. pp 65-66. . "History of Dharmasastra". p 186.14. Bani Deshpande. p 3. Diuhanikavapali. Silakkhandhavaggo.43. "Who Were the Shudras?" pp X I V . n 303: B R Ambedkar. Socialism cannot be achieved in India without 'peasant (agrarian) revolution'. V I I I . as they turn away from 'Western' democracy. and that it he does achieve it as a result of good fortune he w i l l have to grapple with it if he wishes to realise his ideal. "Cultural Revolt in a Colonial Society: The Non-Brahmin Movement in Western India. Nov-Dec 1975. And it is in the rural areas that the caste system is the strongest and the Left movement the weakest — practically non-existent in large areas. Today and Tomorrow" pp 115-116. Gail Omvedt. J Kashyap (ed). III. Ibid. . "Indian Feudalism: c 300-1200''. Yet caste traditions. sexual inequality. Now there is also Janata. 44 With Independence. He w i l l be compelled to take 296 15 16 17 IS 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 Notes 1 Gail Omvedt. Leftist parties have tended to become urbanised and elitised. p 27. "India Today". Mohammad Habib. remain in existence . Vol 1. . B R Ambedkar. P 208. W i t h the basically mercantile economy that dominated rural as well A. though still dominant in educational and cultural institutions. Ibid.30.12 The high caste Hindu rentier landlords were naturally vehement protagonists of the varna-jati dharma. and other vestiges of thousands of years of class rule will persist. Part I I . J Kashyap (ed).111 III. op cit. Separate organisations of women of various Left parties are already in the field. R S Sharma. 1.381. . p 212. 45 Ibid.43 It should be added that the ruling classes of capitalists and landlords and their ruling party. A K Coomaraswamy. Vol I. Vyakarana-Mahabhashya. including untouchables. p 152. caste being basically a manifestation of even pre-class social inequality. p 23. M G Ranade. P V Kane. though economic classes will disappear in socialism. pp 62-63. as much energy to the struggle against the caste system as they devote to the struggle against the class system. The struggle for revolutionary social transformation in India has thus become more difficult. op cit. op cit. Navabharata (Maruthi). . E M S Namboodiripad. op cit. Irian Habib. It is this realisation that has given rise to a controversy that in order to conduct such a struggle separate organisations of scheduled castes and tribes should be formed. Vasudevshastri Abhyankar. on the other hand. w i t h colonial society. that unless he does so he cannot achieve his revolution. p 26. p 14. 15 And though the political and economic base changed. complex. R P Dutt. pp 114-116.X V . op cit. Gail Omvedt. but it is unable to bring Marxist persons. Selected Writings. new class relations came into being. must be bent in conducting the present revolutionary movement against the classcaste rule with this final goal in view. Marxism is becoming increasingly attractive. p 487. As far as Maharashtra is concerned. "Past and Prejudice". op cit. pp 29-30. 46 Ibid. 1. (There was only Congress then. including the relegation of untouchables to separate living arias. V 2. op cit. a new man. community and tribe (increasing organised militancy in the tribal communities has forced the government to pour far greater funds for their 'uplift') has broadened and strengthened the social base of this class-cum-easte rule. 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Mahabharata. pp 29-31. " A n nihilation of Caste". op cit. " I n d i a : From Primitive Communism to Slavery". . p 154. There is no propriety in establishing new organisations of scheduled castes and tribes. S A Dange. p 132. therefore. 1873 to 1930''. The first castes arose out of the sexual or social inequality in the classless matriarchal society. p 244. p 155. Pacittiyapali. p 261. p 97. . up 112-113. Romila Thapar. Rg-Bhasva-Sangraha. pp 215-216. including reliance on Brahmin priests. Irfan Habib.37. Yesterday. The Maharashtrian Brahmin intelligentsia. Ibid. Irfan Habib. Vol II. "The Universe of Vedanta".15. ''Indian Thought". . Irian Habib. was not . p 310. though mainly led by elite urban women. p 139. Ibid. is a proposition which in my opinion is incontrovertible.. Ibid. "Essays on Indian Economics". . V Pavlov V Rastynnikov. P B Vaidya. Lakshmanshastri Joshi.Annual Number February 1979 ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL WEEKLY account of caste after revolution if he does not take 44 account of it before revolution . Vinayapitaka. P S Sharma. op cit.

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